Stress Management

Photo of letter cubes that change from stress to wellness

Working hard should not be confused with overworking at the expense of your relationships and mental and physical health.  The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey has consistently found that work is cited as a significant source of stress by a majority of Americans.  But there are steps you can take to manage stress.

Mindfulness Practice  


Relaxation and Breathing

Other Techniques

Physical Activity
Healthy Lifestyle Tips

The six essential lifestyle elements that optimize health are nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, substance abuse, and social connection.  These tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this extraordinary time were supplied by Leigh Frame, PhD, MHS, associate director of the GW Resiliency & Well-being Center, director of GW Integrative Medicine Programs, and executive director of the GW Office of Integrative Medicine & Health. 

1) Move throughout the day. Walk (even in place) during meetings when you can—go outside in the morning to get vitamin D too! Take stretch breaks (3 you can do every hour & 4 for when you need to move more). Walking after dinner has been shown to have health benefits like blood sugar control: see GW’s own Loretta DiPietro’s research.

2) Make time to clear your head. Just 3 minutes focusing on your breath can lower your blood pressure. Try square breathing—for a count of 3-4 each: inhale, hold, exhale, hold, repeat. Try lengthening the counts as you practice.

Yoga & tai chi are moving meditations you can do anywhere. Try this beginner's yoga program, these beginner’s tai chi moves, or kids' meditation.

3) Eat more plants & whole foods. Focus on fresh or dried herbs & simple food prep. Roasted vegetables = fiber candy! Canned beans = dinner time shortcut!

Nutrition Stripped is my favorite source for interesting, healthy recipes. Check out their 20 Easy Pantry Meal Ideas (Hint: canned beans in here!).

4) Get 7-9 hours of restorative sleep. Prepare by disconnecting (1-2 hours, or even 30 minutes, before bed), avoiding alcohol (3-4 hours before), unloading your mind, etc. A winddown routine can be hugely beneficial: a great time to journal or do your meditation be it square breathing, yoga, tai chi, or through Headspace, which is now available free to all GW employees!

5) Positive social connection. Talk to people as much as possible. Challenge them to a plank-off to strengthen your core while you’re at it…then laugh when you’re finished. Smile!

For healthcare providers feeling high stress, Zoom into the free COVID Calm Clinic—no booking needed, stay as long as you like (even 5 minutes).

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